Monday, January 30, 2017
He believes the ordinance will lead to increased vacant and blighted properties. Owners will walk away from properties due to heavy-handed inspections and repair requirements, he said, leading to an increase in crime and a situation like that of Harrisburg, which he calls "the capital of blighted."
Citing one such home inspection lasting three-and-a-half hours and resulting in a 13-page repair list, he said that such scrutiny requires too many repairs for homes valued at only $30,000.
He surmises that every borough property decreased in value when the ordinance was passed, adding that it "borders on illegal." He said Columbia is in the shape it's in because it is mismanaged.
In the afternoon, fender-bender at North Fifth and Chestnut . . .
Flag-raising at the Columbia Water Company . . .
On Locust Street - Mr. Liberty . . . Mr.? . . . Things sure have changed in Trump's America.
On 18th Street - another bank robbery at Union Community Bank. Two suspects were apprehended. The story is HERE.
On Avenue G - Ready for demo. The backstory is HERE.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
The same night and at the same time, the Columbia Borough School Board will hold its Committee of the Whole meeting at the District Administration Center, 200 North Fifth Street.
Both meetings are open to the public.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Frank Doutrich's petition for an open school board seat was dismissed by Judge Dennis E. Reinaker at 3:16 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, a little more than two hours before the board was to convene for a special meeting. A January 23, 2017 legal notice in LNP listed the meeting's agenda, which included items to un-table a previous motion and appoint a candidate to the seat. Doutrich learned of the dismissal only after calling the courthouse that afternoon. He subsequently drove to the courthouse to retrieve the documents.
During the citizens' comments portion of the meeting, Doutrich asked Michael Grab, the board's solicitor, if there had been any contact with the school district and the courthouse prior to the judge's decision. Grab said there was not. "The Lancaster County Court contacted my office to advise my office as district solicitor that a petition or something that purported to be a petition had been filed naming the school district as an adverse party to find out if the district had received any notification of that, and I indicated to the court that the district had not."
Doutrich then asked Grab if there had been a prior conversation between the judge and him. Grab replied, "No. The only conversation that I had with the court was when the court notified my office that there had been a file."
"But you hadn't spoke to the judge on this?'" Doutrich asked.
"Only when the court had notified my office that there had been a file." Grab replied. He said that had been the end of the conversation.
Doutrich said he had been at various school board meetings with board members and Director of Operations Tom Strickler in which he was directed to file with the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas for an open board seat. "Folks, it's not that simple," Doutrich said. "I know I got an education through the process, but if I had to do over - the embarrassment that it caused for the borough - I would've never filed for this position. And through the process, folks, something smells."
Doutrich asked the board when they found out about the decision. Grab replied that he had found out at about 4:30 p.m. when he checked the prothonotary's website. "The board has no knowledge of the dismissal of your petition. I just found out myself, and as the meeting progressed, I was going to advise the board that it happened.” Grab said he had already advised the board what their jurisdictional authority is to appoint someone if they wished to proceed to do that. "But they were not aware that the petition had actually been dismissed by the court,” Grab said.
Doutrich then asked if Grab agreed that he had stated to the judge that the petition be dismissed. Grab said that the court had contacted his office to advise that it had received some form of filing “purported to be a petition.” He said he had indicated to the court that the board's position would be that unless the petition met the requirements of the rules of procedure, in general it would not be a valid. He said that the court indicated that the file did not require a formal response at that time.
Doutrich questioned the board about the urgency of holding the special meeting, citing the school board brief in LNP which stated that the board can conduct business with only eight members as it awaits a court decision. (The board had previously voted to table a decision pending a judge's decision.) "What was the urgency to have this meeting without knowing that the judge had rejected this?" Doutrich asked.
Grab replied that it's up to the board to decide who fills the vacancy. He said the board is mandated to proceed "with some speed" to try to fill vacancies when they occur. "The only thing that prevented the filling of the vacancy was the representation you made that there had been a petition filed with the court and that somehow the court had jurisdiction, and the board no longer did." Grab said he clarified with the board that it had jurisdiction until a valid petition is filed with the court.
Doutrich asked why, if some board members had known that two letters of interest had been filed within the 30 days, the board didn't act. "Had they done that, none of us would be here now."
Doutrich asked Board President Keith Combs who is responsible to relay that information to board members. Combs said it would have been his [Combs's] responsibility. He said he found out about the letters of interest on January 6. He explained that he had been out of state at that time on a family matter, and when he returned he sent out a meeting notification. “I still look at it from the standpoint that if there were questions about how the board should proceed at that point that someone else may have stepped up to answer those questions or seek a motion to have a meeting scheduled so that we could proceed," Combs said.
"Who was to notify you that they had two applicants?" Doutrich asked. Combs said that would come from the administration. Doutrich asked who in the administration, and Combs replied that Strickler had sent him the email.
Doutrich said the judge called him and didn't appear to know how to move forward with the process. Doutrich added he believed this was something new to the judge and that court employees also didn't understand what he was applying for. Grab said the form of the petition filed may have been confusing to the court as to what it was Doutrich was seeking.
After a motion by Iris Garrido and second by Vickie Anspach the board voted 7-0 to appoint Jenna Geesey to the open seat.
Doutrich asked Columbia Spy to relay his congratulations to Jenna Geesey who was appointed to the board Wednesday night. He thanks all citizens and friends who supported him during this effort.
Friday, January 27, 2017
Thursday, January 26, 2017
March 18, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. – “Harnessing the Wind” – Explore how wind is a force that can cause movement, motion, and power, and how to use this force in our everyday lives. Create a sailboat, make something fly high into the air, and discover how a turbine moves and uses wind to create energy with Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA). This program is sponsored by LCSWMA.
April 15, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. – “Upcycle! With LCSWMA” – Join our friends from LCSWMA to learn about recycling and create your own special piece using recycled materials and upcycle it for a new purpose.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
The Columbia School Board voted unanimously to appoint Jenna Geesey to fill a vacancy at a special meeting Wednesday night. Geesey was not present. She interviewed for the position before the board at a special meeting on January 18.
Judge Dennis Reinaker dismissed Frank Doutrich's petition for the seat on Wednesday afternoon.
The Columbia School Board is poised to reverse a previous decision and appoint a board director to a vacant seat at a special meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the district office.
According to the meeting agenda (posted at the district website), the board will attempt a reversal of its January 18 vote to table an appointment in order to fill the vacant seat. (The vote was tabled pending a judge's decision.) The solicitor will then present an argument challenging Frank Doutrich's petition for the seat.
The seat was vacated by Leo Lutz, Jr. when he resigned from the board effective December 9, 2016. When the board failed to fulfill the legal requirement to appoint a new board member within 30 days, Doutrich filed a petition with the Court of Common Pleas for the seat. Doutrich told the Spy late this morning that he had not received any notification of the judge's decision.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
The Columbia Borough School Board will hold a Special Meeting on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. in the District Administration Center, 200 N. 5th Street to discuss the vacant board position and take any necessary action, and to address any other matter that comes before the board.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Sunday, January 22, 2017
It sits looking
Saturday, January 21, 2017
At issue was how a vacancy left by Leo Lutz, Jr. in December would be filled. Resident Frank Doutrich had filed paperwork with the court to fill the vacant seat since the board had not made an appointment within the 30-day time frame. During the special meeting Wednesday night, the board had voted to table any motion for a vote pending the outcome of a judge’s decision. At Thursday night’s regular school board meeting, however, President Keith Combs revisited the issue. “I’m looking to make a determination as to whether or not the board can proceed with a vote on the candidates that were interviewed,” he said.
But Combs persisted, asking for comments leading to a motion to take the previous night’s action off the table.
Board Director Iris Garrido read from a law stating that if a vacancy is not filled by school directors within 30 days, the court of common pleas can intervene. “It's up to the courts,” she said. “It's not in our hands.”
Nathan Saxton, acting as the board’s attorney, said no official notice of action by the court had been received. “Our office has not received any notification or service of a petition being filed, so it's our position that to our knowledge, there's no petition that has been filed with the courts that would preclude the board from having any jurisdiction over the appointment of the vacancy,” Saxton said.
Garrido explained that the reason the board had decided to delay a vote was due to Doutrich’s petition and the judge’s confusion over what to do with it. Garrido then asked Doutrich, who was present, if he had a copy of the petition with him. He replied he had had it at the previous night's meeting but felt he would not need it at this meeting, since the board had declined to accept it when he offered it the night before.
Doutrich also told the board he was aware that the district solicitor had been talking back and forth with the judge. He also said that Director of Operations Tom Strickler had made a comment indicating there had been communication with the judge. “So this is in the making,” he said.
Saxton then reiterated that under the present circumstances there was nothing precluding the board from acting to make an appointment.
Saxton said that the court would have the authority to vacate any appointment made by the board if the petition were found to exist and appoint the person the board deems most fit. In the absence of that, the board appointment would stand.
Hohenadel said, “I just think the cleanest way is to stick with the motion from last evening that it's tabled. I would hate for us to appoint somebody and then have them pulled back out of that seat because the judge vacated them.” She advised the board to wait for the judge’s decision.
Hohenadel asked Saxton if anyone in the attorneys’ office had had any communication with anyone on the district prior to Wednesday night’s meeting.
Saxton replied that he was informed of allegations that the petition was filed but stressed that he had not seen it. “I was informed from somebody in my office that the district had related somebody claimed a petition was filed,” he said.
Hohenadel chided Saxton. “We as a school board came in last evening, and we hadn't heard any of this, so if there was communication between your office and the district office, I would've hoped there would have been from there some upward communication to the board at some point in time,” she said. “There’s nothing more embarrassing than coming into a public meeting – and people presume that we have information that we don't. It hasn't been shared with us.” Hohenadel then asked Doutrich to submit copies of the petition to the school district on Friday, which he agreed to do.
Emily Stephens - Grade 12
Ciara Arroyo - Grade 11
Madison Simpson - Grade 10
MS Taylor/Hill Campus Students of the Month:
Shayla Barley - Grade 7
Kiera Brown - Grade 6
Kirsten Resch - Grade 5
Iris Garrido is featured in the January 19, 2017 issue of La Voz Lancaster, a Spanish-language newspaper published by LNP Media Group, Inc. Garrido is a director on the Columbia Borough School Board.
The online article can be found HERE. The hard copy can be found at THESE LOCATIONS.
Friday, January 20, 2017
A Columbia man convicted of a vehicle crash that killed an Upper Milford Township man last February was sentenced Thursday in Lehigh County Court, according to The Morning Call.
Frank N. Snyder Jr., 38, was reportedly sentenced to five to 12 years in state prison by Judge Maria L. Dantos for the fatal hit-and-run on Feb. 23.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
This issue was further discussed at Thursday night's regular board meeting.
MORE TO FOLLOW.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
You will create a 16x20 painting of high quality in two hours. The workshop is designed for beginners and those with experience.
Go HERE for more information.